HOWELL – While inclement weather postponed the Feb. 20 special meeting, the township council remains determined to ascertain the fate of the MacKenzie Museum and Library. A rescheduled special meeting on the future of the museum will be held on March 5.
Thoughts around the fate of the MacKenzie Museum came to light during the Feb. 5 council meeting. Deputy Mayor Evelyn O’Donnell expressed concern over the historical structure and the renovations required to make it usable again.
“I would like to be able to come to a decision within the next several weeks as to what the determination is going to be with this building,” said O’Donnell.
The MacKenzie Museum, located at 427 Lakewood-Farmingdale Road in Howell, is currently owned by the Howell Historical Society. The home dates back to the early 1700s, later named for its last owners Jessie and James MacKenzie.
While it is rich with historical artifacts, the museum has been closed to the public for quite some time now, officials said.
Director of Community Development Jim Herrman explained at the meeting that the building would need to be renovated and updated to allow people back in it. These renovations could run the township over $150,000, he added.
While a handful of individuals were allowed access into the building “here and there” over the past few years, “we [the township] stopped that for fear of some structural issues and some safety issues,” Herrman said.
The question of what to do with the building remains. Howell Township is currently paying for electricity, alarms, and propane in the building, yet no one uses the space. The township could make the choice to renovate it, but that would be costly as well.
In the midst of all of this, Herrman also noted that the historical artifacts stored in the building are deteriorating.
During the meeting, officials weighed the option of selling the property to Allaire State Park. However, Herrman explained that Allaire was “not interested” because the structure that stands now is not the original home, which takes away from the historical value.
The council will discuss the fate of the MacKenzie house further on March 5. Interested residents can attend the meeting at town hall, 4567 Route 9, at 4 p.m.
“The worst thing that can happen is for us to continue on the path we have been on and nothing is done,” said O’Donnell.